2022 Ghana April Team Blog
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For this trip, we had a small but mighty team who jumped in head-first into International territory. Before this, none of them had carried a passport so this was a big leap of faith for everyone (go big or go home). Because we were at City of Refuge a week before Easter, we asked if it would be ok for us to host some Easter celebrations for the kids and those were a huge hit. Although only the primary aged kids participated in the hunt, we made sure to bring treats for all of them and the kids were very grateful. We also spent a great deal of time working on a cleaning project in the library and helping in the medical clinic. Thank you to everyone who donated over the counter medicines, school supplies, socks, and other much needed items for our new found friends. It means so much to them and to us. Below is our day to day activities from our time in Ghana. You can scroll from the bottom of the blog to the top to read in chronological order.
Apr 10-11 | Day 10/11 Travel Days
Several hours and planes later, we are home and processing our experience. Oh, all the things God has been up to within us and through us. Thank you, friends, for being a part of it all.
Here are some questions to ask your loved ones when they get home. Answering the standard “how was your trip?” is harder to put into words.
- What serving activities were you a part of? - Tell me what was most unexpected about your journey. - Tell me one of your favorite moments with your team. - What about with someone from City of Refuge? - What was the hardest part of this experience? - What do you miss most about Ghana? - How can I be praying for you now that you’re back? - How can I pray for your new friends? - What did you miss most while you were gone? - What is most difficult about being back home? - What is God teaching you as you get back into your routine here? - How do you want to remember this experience going forward? - How did God change your view of the world? - What did God teach you about Himself?
Apr 10 | Day 9
This morning was our last church service at City of Refuge. We were honored to be a part of the Baby Naming Ceremony for Sir David and Auntie Jessica's baby girl. They announced her name to be Sika, which translates into "gold". She is a precious gift to them and to the rest of the community.
Tabatha and Tonya sported their new dresses made by the talented people from CORE (City of Refuge Empowerment) and we heard a powerful message from Pastor Robert.
Right after church, we changed clothes and headed to Accra for our COVID test prior to departure. Daddy Johnbull and Mama Stacy accompanied us and have been the most tremendous hosts. When we are at CORM, we feel safe, cared for and loved on. It's truly a blessed experience and more than one tear has been shed as we leave this place and say our goodbyes.
Apr 9 | Day 8
Today was absolutely a blessed day for us. We planned to take some of the senior high girls to the pool this morning and we had to wait a bit for a few of them to get haircuts. Part of the uniform for senior high includes short hair but they look beautiful regardless of whether they have long or short hair. As we headed to the pool, we got to see a baboon family on the side of the road and Pastor Johnbull pulled over so we could take pictures. They live in that area because there is an animal reserve nearby that they venture off of at times.
Once we got to the pool, the girls had a blast. These girls work hard a lot of the time and it was fun to see them let loose and have fun. I was able to teach one of them to swim and she was swimming like a natural before we left. We were all floored at how quickly she picked it up. They had some breath holding competitions, swim races, and a couple were even determined to get handstands accomplished. We ate pizza and had sodas out of glass containers. It was really nostalgic. All the girls were grateful and we were too - just to have time with them.
After the pool, we headed back to CORM and did some coloring with the kids. It’s a little sad that’s it’s our last day for that. We have gained far more here than what we’ve given. These children have won our hearts.
This evening was the 1st quarter birthday celebration. Every child whose birthday was Jan-Apr received a gift and a cupcake today along with cheers and birthday songs and playing fun games. The best part was all the dancing. These kids are killer dancers. More than one of us teared up watching the pure joy on the faces of these children. Some who have likely never been celebrated like this before. But today, they were special. Today, they got a gift of their very own. And being in this moment for us was priceless.
Apr 8 | Day 7
Today we started our day with prayer. Pastor Johnbull, Mama Stacy, and Auntie Autumn prayed over all of us on the team and individually. It was such a beautiful and powerful time… I know the team left that room different than when they came in. There was a huge downpour while we’re were praying so there’s a picture of Tonya wading through it all to get to the clinic.
After prayer, we headed to the clinic to help Sir Ernest organize and clean. Compared to some of the other work we’ve done, this was light lifting. We asked if there are things he really needs in the clinic and he is compiling a list for us. He mentioned needing a nebulizer and Tabatha happens to have one. “Ask and you shall receive”. She’ll be leaving it here when we leave.
This afternoon, our team started writing notes to the people who they want to encourage before we leave. It’s been sweet to see how we have connected with different people.
Our last Easter egg hunt happened today. Lora did a great job leading the Easter story and then flip flops went flying as they ran to capture eggs. I love seeing the joy in each of them. Especially those who are new here and have never experienced anything like it.
Finally, tonight was movie night in the cafeteria. We watched Vivo and several of the kids came to sit with us. We had a great time. And boy are we going to miss this place.
Apr 7 | Day 6
We had an early start to the day and Pastor Johnbull made us some delicious egg sandwiches. Most days we have bread with oatmeal so egg sandwiches were a real treat. We headed out for an outing day after breakfast and picked up Auntie Lydia and Uncle Nosa. He is Johnbull’s brother along with his wife and it was nice to be able to spend the day with the 4 of them today. At their house, we met a cute little puppy named Whale and Uncle Nosa showed us his grass cutters (animals that kind of look like a gopher or a beaver). They are raised for meat.
Our next stop was Boti Falls; 2 side by side waterfalls located at the base of 250 steps. Unfortunately, we are in dry season so the falls are not “falling” right now. Even still, the area was very peaceful and beautiful. Then we headed to Aburi Gardens which has been established for over 100 years. We had a very knowledgeable tour guide lead us around. We were all fascinated by the beautiful trees and plants around us but no one was as excited as Lora. She finally had someone who could answer all her botanical questions.
God brought us home safely (and earlier than expected) which was nice. The kids were so excited to see us again and this place is starting to feel like a 2nd home for this team. CORM is awesome. Thank you Jesus for this beautiful place. Thank you for the founders, Johnbull and Stacy, and for how they love people so well. They choose to go out of their way for us and for so many others and it shines like Jesus. He’s so proud of them.
Apr 6 | Day 5
Today we started our day at the school to see the students begin their day with their opening ceremony. They all look so cute in their uniforms and it was a treat for our team to watch them. After that we went back to CORE because we wanted them to pray for us as we’d prayed for them. They blessed each of us so much in that and it was beautiful to hear each of them pray for us in their language.
After CORE, we went back to the library and finished up our project and then got a new assignment of doing reading assessments for the kids. I’m just here to say we’re better at dealing with the library. The kids were great- we just kept getting ourselves confused with the assessing. While we were at the school, a big rain came through and cooled everything down. We ended up walking about a 1/4 mile in the muddy rain and I for one, had a blast doing it. There’s something freeing that comes when you’ve surrendered to getting soaked. Ha!
With mud on the playground, we had to move the Easter egg hunt indoors. The kids did great and so did Tabatha as she shared the Easter story with them. Afterwards, we distributed bubbles to the kids and it was so cool to watch them. A tiny thing of bubbles brings them such joy. It’s beautiful to watch.
Lora requested a picture with Sir Ernest. He runs the medical clinic here at City of Refuge and he has been so helpful to Lora as she has dealt with some intense allergies while she has been here. We finally discovered that she is allergic to the anti-malaria medicine we have been taking - and by the next day of not taking it she has been feeling infinitely better.
Right before dinner, we make a point to prayer walk around the campus. Sometimes some of the littles follow us around. And most of the time we have an audience. It's important for us to pray this way for CORM. They feel the prayers and they know what we are doing as we lay hands on each building. Prayer matters and we are grateful God calls us to intercede for these beautiful people.
After dinner, we had Bible study which several of us really enjoyed. Someone would ask a Biblical question and then others in the study would answer. It’s amazing just how much exposure to God we have in this place. Jesus is absolutely the center focal point of everything here.
Apr 5 | Day 4
Today was a good day for our team. We started our day with devotional at CORE (City of Refuge Empowerment) and we talked about what it means to take up your cross daily. Afterwards, we circled around as a group and prayed for each person there. It was so nice to share that moment with God and with others. The team is really stepping out in their faith regarding prayer and I’m so proud of them. God is moving.
After our time with CORE, we went back to the library to stack and sort and sweep and label. The team has done an exceptional job in there in a short amount of time. Miss Ann, the librarian, is really happy with it all.
Middle of the day we had the water stop working which made it a little difficult for us to do laundry. We had one of our sweet young friends offer to hand wash our laundry more than once today which was so generous of her. We almost asked her to teach us how to do it and then the water came back on. This is Africa. Always an adventure.
Again, we hosted an Easter Egg hunt for some of the older kids. They listened intently to Auntie Tonya share the Easter story and asked really great questions too. Some of the older kids helped hide the eggs and they took that job seriously! The whole experience was tons of fun.
This evening, all the team was so excited for dinner. They had enjoyed lunch a lot (a vegetable stew) and each meal has gotten progressively less spicy. I’m missing my Ghana spice, to be honest, but the rest of the team does much better with the milder food. In all seriousness, our team has been so grateful for the kindness and generosity in this place. The kitchen staff goes out of their way to make sure we are doing well and feel cared for.
Daddy Johnbull purchased coconuts for us to try and the coconut water instantly rehydrated all of us. It was a special little miracle.
Tonight, we helped the kids with “prep” which is basically homework. I’m not sure very much homework got done but each of us spent time with a few who were focused (and a few who were more silly than focused). Both are ok. Kids being kids. Imagine the miracle of that, considering what some have experienced already in their short lives.
As a team, at the end of each night, we do a debrief and I ask the question, “where did you see God today?”
- When the little boy gave me a bracelet - When the school girls offered to help us in the library - Praying over the people at CORE - Seeing all the kids so happy and grateful about their Easter goodies - Daddy Johnbull bringing coconuts to us - When one of the kids shared his candy with me - When the sweet little one came and played with us to squirt us with our own water bottles - Receiving the handmade necklace from one of the boys
There are other, more private things we shared with one another as well. Suffice to say, God is doing a thing. And He is amazing. Thank you Jesus. And thank you all who are praying.
Apr 4 | Day 3
We started with orientation with Sir David and Sir Christian today. Afterwards, we went to the school library and started organizing books and going through giant storage bins. It doesn’t sound difficult but it was in ways that can only be answered with “this is Africa”. We are grateful to be able to make it easier for these kids to find new books and for the teachers to be able to easily access their learning tools. We made progress and we will go back tomorrow to get further along.
After the library, we had lunch and then hosted the Easter egg hunt for the younger kids. The kids were more excited about collecting the eggs than getting their candies and some cried when we wanted to get the empty eggs back. Little kids are funny. This is all new for them. After the hunt, 2 of us were tired but Tabatha and Lora decided to prayer walk on their own. As a leader, I truly am so proud of these women taking this initiative. It’s a first on our teams and it’s shows much growth within both of them.
This evening, we finished our orientation by watching 2 videos about the kids and about the slavery here in Ghana. The videos really touched our team and made this experience a little more real for each person.
Finally, at the end of the night we played Uno (the Ghana way) with some of the older kids and had a lot of fun. These kids are funny, helpful, competitive and just the greatest. They made more of an effort to help us than to win. Community is everything here.
Pray for our day tomorrow please. That we’re able to accomplish the work set before us, that the 2nd group of kids enjoy their Easter egg hunt, and that we see God in every detail. He is, for sure, doing a work in each and every one of us.
Apr 3 | Day 2
We had an amazing Sunday today. We started our day at church with prayer, then Bible study, and the message. Pastor Johnbull shared such a good word about being faithful with the little and being a good manager with what God has given us. Everyone on the team felt the message was timely for us. During worship, the power went out and the entire room kept on singing (which impressed our team so much). After church, we had lunch and then played with the kids some more. We did word searches and learned how to make friendship bracelets. These kids are so exceptionally generous with that- they were sweet and eager to make bracelets as gifts for the team. Are we that generous? In general? In life? Are we generous with the new thing in our lives? Just a question we’re pondering.
At one point, Tabatha left her phone on the ground and two of the boys were quick to point it out. Boys that are used to doing what’s needed to survive are now generous with whatever they have and quick to return what is lost. We were so amazed at them honestly. They are special kids with great character. This afternoon, we did our prayer walk around campus and the weather cooled off for us, which was nice. This evening, we played cards with the kids and Pastor Dominion. Tomorrow, we have our first day of real work so pray for us. That we do it well and in a way that honors the Lord. Pray that we stay unified as a team and that any discomforts pale in comparison to the Joy we have in being here and enjoying this place.
Apr 2 | Day 1
The team had a wonderful day today. We took a tour of the campus and enjoyed some play time with the kids. We did word searches, threw frisbees (which was an adventure with so much wind), and played cards. These kids have welcomed us with open arms and we have connected in our own ways already. This morning, we prepared some Easter eggs for an Easter egg hunt we will lead on Monday and Miss Tabatha found some little gecko eggs. Little Mercy gave us a tour of the goats which was fun (Tonya loves the goats!) and Lora keeps asking what kind of plant or tree something is (which I have no idea - ever). This evening, the prayer gathering was postponed until tomorrow because the power was out. Instead, we sat and chatted with Mama Stacy and enjoyed watching the kids play a fun clapping and stepping game together. The team has been surprised to see how simple and peaceful life is here and we are enjoying ourselves. Please pray that we do better about drinking our water (it’s warm and the team is struggling to acclimate to that). If that’s our only hiccup though, we’re calling it a win. Thank you for praying for us. We can definitely feel them from here.
Mar 31- Apr 1 | Team Travel Days
We are on our way to Ghana. 2 days before we were scheduled to travel, Ghana lifted the requirement to get COVID tested upon arrival (for vaccinated visitors) so that made our trip just a little bit easier (and cheaper!). We were prepared with all the documents we needed and the check in process couldn't have gone smoother. We made all our connections without issue and landed in Ghana mid-afternoon on the 1st. Considering this was the first long haul flight for most of us, the team held up wonderfully. Praise God.
March 26 | Prayer Send Off
Our team shared a special time of worship, prayer and commissioning alongside several friends and family members. These trips are as much about the family members who stay back home as they are the volunteers who are being sent out. It was important for us to pray over them all this time. We are each so grateful for the people who have made space and sacrifice to allow us to go on this faith journey. God bless them all. Please keep us lifted in prayer and you'll hear from us again when we're on the other side of the world!
March | Pre-Trip: Training
We completed our team training and left feeling free and also purposeful. The Lord has been calling us "for such a time as this". We all felt it. Prior to our 4 day in-person training, our team had been growing together in Christ through an online Bible study. We came across this image of 4 women from scripture and decided to do a deeper study on them. At our 4 day training, each of us took a turn leading the group in a Bible teaching. Susan did Tamar, Lora did one on Ruth. Tabatha covered Rahab and Tonya talked us through Bathsheba. We have learned through this experience that no one in the room learns more about a topic than the one doing the teaching. It was a really fruitful time for each of us.
Together, we prayed together, worshipped together, broke bread, and took communion. Many tears were shed (as often happens when God is doing a thing) but there was a great deal of laughter as well. These women are equipped and ready to serve.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to all of the friends and family who are praying and supporting us in this journey.